When Kate Mavor becomes chief executive of the new English Heritage charity in May, it will be third time she has taken on a difficult leadership job in the third sector. The first was at the youth volunteering programme ProjectScotland and the second at the conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland. On both occasions she was praised for steering the charities through tough financial periods involving constitutional change and staff restructures.
Similar skills will be needed in her new post, where she will lead a team through major change and build a shared vision for the future as English Heritage splits into two. She is heading the new charity arm, which retains the name English Heritage and will care for a collection of more than 400 historic sites. Historic England, the policy and legal arm, will remain a government service. Mavor will lead plans, financed by an £80m government grant, for the charity to become self-funding in eight years.
She will have to bring the organisation together and show a clear way aheadSir Kenneth Calman, chairman of the National Trust for Scotland
Sir Kenneth Calman, chairman of the National Trust for Scotland, says it was at breaking point when Mavor joined. The charity's reserves were at a dangerously low level and properties were being closed. But her five-year plan to restore financial stability transformed the trust's fortunes.
"She overcame the difficulties of bringing people and properties together and getting services back on target," says Calman. "Similarly, at English Heritage she will have to bring the organisation together and show a clear way ahead. She has good leadership and strategic vision, combined with the skills to motivate people."
Glasgow-born Mavor, an Oxford graduate and mother of two boys, held management roles in book publishing and language schools and ran her own market research company before moving into the third sector. Ian McAteer, chairman of ProjectScotland, says she is commercially minded and will bring determination and passion to the new role.
"She navigated ProjectScotland through difficult times when it fell out of favour with the change of Scottish government," he says. "She then went on to an even bigger challenge at the National Trust for Scotland. She knows how to handle herself and has a good eye for the media, understanding how to deal with public opinion and vociferous stakeholders.
"It is testament to what she has done at the trust that she's got the English Heritage job. To move from a relatively small organisation in Scotland to this role says a lot about her ability."